Saturday, November 29, 2014

What's Blooming This Month? November 2014

With the month almost at the close and the busyness of life at its peak right now (or so it seems), I thought I'd post some photos of my garden in November. I took these right before the big freeze set in which either forced all the leaves to drop or turned them into a crisp. Still the beauty of autumn was here until the end...

 They don't call it Burning Bush for nothing! This Euonymus alatus literally looks like it's on fire.

When most of the garden flowers are heading off to sleep, these Anenome 'Prince Henry' are in full bloom.

All the hostas are now turning a brilliant shade of yellow, which adds such a flair of awesomeness to the garden.

What would a fall garden be without mums? I love how these are flopped over the boulders, down the slope here.

 Silly daffodils, it's not spring yet! Go back to bed.

The Japanese Maple's deep reddish hue in autumn looks so pretty against the weeping spruce.

 The foliage and the drying flower heads of this sedum are eye catching right now.

And of course the variegated holly is in full "bloom" with berries galore - just in time for the winter season!

So there you have it - my Long Island, NY garden in November! I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the fresh autumn air before the cold and snow set in.

As always, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more frequent photo updates.

Until soon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Blooming this Month? October 2014

They sunlight streams through the trees at a different angle these days, the mornings and evenings are cool and the leaves gently fall to the ground like raindrops. Autumn is definitely here. The days are getting shorter and yet, my days are not getting any less busy. Two of the children are off at school, the other two still home with me. This doesn't leave me much time to garden or blog, but I do what I can, knowing that both will still be here next year and maybe then I'll have a few more minutes. In the meantime, I am admiring the life cycle of my garden, the beauty of the season's colors and the sweet smell in the air.

Here's what's blooming in my Long Island, NY garden this month:

My cute little garden owls continue to make me smile as they peek out from under the hydrangea leaves.

The rose hips on the carpet roses are just lovely and the perfect color to go with their surroundings.

I bought these mums last year for a few containers and before the ground froze, plopped them into the ground, not sure whether they would come back of not. I am beyond excited they came back and just love the color!

Anenome 'Queen Charlotte' is a welcome pink beauty when all the garden is getting ready for a long winter nap.

I have been waiting for days and days to see what this Dendranthema (Korean Mum) looked like. It was given to me back in June after my horrible sour mulch debacle. The name was new to me, and so I did a little research and learned that Dendranthema was formerly known as Chrysanthemum. Chrysanthemum is still commonly used for hardy florist mums to differentiate from true hardy Dendranthema.

And this sedum is still looking magnificent. The flowerheads have moved from bright pink to this deeper maroon color on top of the lovely green foliage. I don't know the cultivar, as this plant was grandfathered into my garden, so if you have any ideas, please let me know!

That's what's blooming in my garden this month! What's in yours? I'd love to hear from you.
As always, thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting the monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. It's great to see what's blooming all over the country!

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's Blooming This Month? September 2014

The last few days have been perfect September weather - cool mornings and evenings, warm days and low humidity. The sunlight hits the garden differently this time of year - warmer, softer and somewhat more peaceful. 

Here's what's blooming in my Long Island, NY garden this month:

Although the Rudbeckias (Black-eyed Susans) are starting to fade, their seed heads are a wonderful treat for the birds. In a few more days, the mums will be in full bloom, prolonging the show in this garden.

The panicle hydrangea is still in full bloom. I just love the fullness of this shrub, the delicacy of the flowers and its long season. 

The Crape Myrtle finished flowering weeks ago, but the seed heads will remain and are quite attractive. 

The Knockout Rose shrub is still blooming, with new buds appearing every day. It's a lovely compliment to the light green and pink of the neighboring Sedum.

Deep in the shade of my shade garden, these Toad Lilies are happy as can be.

The variegated Liriope is also in full bloom. I love the purple spikes standing tall over the green and white leaves. 

And what would fall be without a few new container plantings?

That's what's blooming in my garden this month! What's in yours? I'd love to hear from you.
As always, thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. It's great to see what's blooming all over the country!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hummingbirds in My Backyard

A few weeks ago I purchased a hummingbird feeder at our local nursery. As much as I tried to plant flowers that would attract these facinating birds, I just never got any to visit. But within a few hours of placing the feeder where we could watch from the kitchen windows, we saw one! What an absolute delight to see!

Hummingbirds get their name from the sound their wings make when they fly because they are flapping so fast (about 80x per second!). They have a unique ability to fly in any direction -  right, left, up down, backwards and upside down too.

Hummingbirds are attacted to food by sight, and though red flowers are huge attractors, these birds will go to any colored flower, so long as they are rich in nectar. My feeder is red and yellow, but the nectar is clear. 

If you haven't done so already, I highly recommending attracting hummingbirds either with a feeder or plants. Perennials such as bee balms, columbines, daylillies, lupines and annuals like cleome, impatiens and petunias are a good place to start!

Friday, August 15, 2014

What's Blooming This Month? August 2014

It's Garden Blogger Bloom Day! On the 15th of each month, we garden bloggers like to show off what's blooming and growing in our gardens. Here on Long Island, zone 7, things are blooming all over and I'm just letting most of the plants simply do their thing. 

Below are a few favorites from my August garden this month:

These black eyed Susans take center stage in August in my garden. They are so happy and free, I just let them bloom and fill in all over. It's like a sky full of yellow fireworks.

A new addition this year under the yellow Day Lily is Sedum 'Cherry Tart'. 
I love the purple foliage and pink blossoms.

The panicle hydrangea is in full bloom now and looking fantastic. 

Another new addition is Echinachea 'Hot Papaya'. I needed something tall in the back of the bed that would look lovely with the rudbeckias. These cone flowers have petals 
that point downward and look like little mini rockets to me. 

The Knockout Rose in in full bloom and looking so very happy these days. 

My containers in the shade are looking great now. Along the back fence, there is little soil and lots of shade. So instead of struggling to find something to grow there all season, I had my children paint a few stray branches with outdoor paint and voila!, instant garden art to brighten up a shady spot. 

My August garden is full of vibrant colors these days. What about yours? What's blooming where you are? Do you have any of the same plants? I'd love to hear from you!

Many thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this month's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Miniature Fairy Garden

Seems everywhere you look there are supplies for fairy gardens, articles on how to build one and websites selling miniature furniture. I've wanted to create a miniature fairy garden for quite some time but I just couldn't find the right spot in my garden for it. With two toddlers running around, I knew it had to be out of their reach, yet accessible for the older kids to enjoy it. While on my trip to Portland, I saw a container set among the garden filled with characters to create a setting. I knew this was my best option.

So I purchased a saucer container (it's main purpose is to sit under a pot for drainage) and some potting soil. Next, I took the children to the craft store and purchased a wooden bird house, some colored river rocks and a few miniature furnishings. While my daughter painted the bird house with outdoor paint, my son laid the rocks in the soil to create a "river." It was so much fun watching them work together to create the setting they desired for their little world. I found a few seedlings in the yard, dried flowers, some acorns and pieces of bark to add to it as well.

This is how it came out:

So very easy to do and a lot of fun too! 

Do you have a miniature garden? I am always looking for inspiration!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's Blooming This Month? July 2014

It's Garden Blogger Bloom Day! On the 15th of each month, we garden bloggers like to show off what's blooming and growing in our gardens. Here on Long Island, zone 7, things are blooming all over and some still recovering from my sour mulch disaster. Read more about that here

Below are a few favorites from my garden this month:

Hemerocallis Purple d'Oro
This lovely purple daylily has a bright yellow center and crinkled edges on the petals. 

Thankfully these chartreuse colored coral bells are recovering from the mulch disaster. The wispy pink blooms held above the bright foliage brightens up this shady spot under the viburnum.

Courtesy of my four budding artists, I acquired some yard art for my garden and nestled them among the variegated Liriope. 

And these Annabelle hydrangeas are blooming so profusely this year! They look like big snowballs. 

Even though the flowers have faded from the viburnum shrubs, the red berries have started to take form and look like subtle flowers themselves. 

The Endless Summer hydrangeas were not too badly affected by this winter's bitter cold and are now pushing out beautiful blue blooms, some tinged with purple. 

My sea of Black-eyed Susans are on the cusp of blooming. 
I love their form contrast to the tall, wispy Russian Sage and color contrast to the bright pink Echinacea.

New this year: Echinacea 'Cherry Brandy'

More cheery Rudbeckias! 

So there you go! My garden in July. What's blooming in your garden? Do you have any of the same plants? I'd love to hear from you!

Many thanks to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this month's GBBD! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sour Mulch and It's Devastating Effects

Four days before my husband and I were set to host a 40th birthday party in our backyard for 60 guests, I decided to get a delivery of fresh mulch to spruce things up a bit and get the yard looking in top shape. It was a hot and humid day when the truck arrived and the workers started to lay the mulch. About six hours later, I returned home to find 60% of my plants looking dead or burned and the mulch smelled more like vinegar than freshly composted wood chips. To say I was devastated is an understatement. All my hard work to nurture small plants, all the annuals I planted early enough to look established in preparation for the party, all my woody shrubs I planted 2 years ago that had finally started to take off... destroyed.

Here is a photo of the same spot taken the day before:

So what happened? At first I thought it was that the mulch was too hot and put down on too hot of a day. But after talking to a few professionals and doing some of my own research online, it was concluded that the mulch was sour, i.e. toxic. Though not common, it has been known to happen. Lucky me. 

According to an article on Cornell University's website, if not enough oxygen gets into the center of the mulch, it may become laden with toxic byproducts such as methanol, acetic acid, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gas. The mulch may become very acidic, with a pH in the range of 1.8-3.6 (properly composted organic material has a near neutral pH of 6.0-7.2). 

The symptoms of toxic mulch usually occur within 24 hours of application. The damage resembles that caused by drought, poor drainage, fertilizer burn or pesticide misapplication. Symptoms include yellowing of leaf edges, scorched-looking leaves, defoliation and/or plant death. 

Look at my beautiful Lady's Mantle below. The part that is brown and dead looking is the part of the plant that came in contact with the mulch and it's toxic fumes:

And the shade garden, that was so lush and full of life the day before:

Now looks like this:

The plants that suffered the most seem to be ones that were either sensitive, not-yet-fully-established (like the Coral Bells below), or annuals:

Interestingly, the Hostas didn't seem to be as affected as the Astilbe or Columbine.

The damage on the woody shrubs varied. But these Clethra look terrible now. Like the Hydrangeas, their leaves never even touched the mulch directly but were burned by the released gas:

Even the grass along the edges of the mulch got burned!

In the days that followed the mulch application, my landscaper took a sample to get tested. The pH of this mulch was 4.0 and had a high level of salt. Horrible stuff. I wished I had never got it and couldn't stand the sour smell it still had.

Again reading on Cornell's site, once the damage was done, there wasn't much to do and removing the mulch wouldn't do anything. But mentally, I needed some of it gone. I removed a lot of it around the patio and had the landscapers remove some more in some of the bigger beds. I trimmed off all the dead branches & leaves and replaced the dead annuals with new ones. Two weeks later, things seem to be doing ok now. Many things still do not look great, but the Hydrangeas are blooming and putting out new leaves, the Coral Bells have new leaf buds emerging and the grass is starting to green up again. I still may have to replace a few perennials that I'm trying to nurture back to health and I've had to fill in some holes with planters and annuals. But if nothing else, it's a lesson in plant resilience and letting go of things out of your control. That and... never do something like this last minute before a party!!